• Published 14th Feb 2015
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Mass Effect: Gathering Storm - Meluch



When a Prothean Beacon is unearthed on Eden Prime and a rogue Spectre starts a galactic manhunt begins. When the Elements of Harmony are found to be missing, a coming storm threatens to destroy everything.

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Chapter Fifteen - Things Get Real

Chapter Fifteen - No Time for Caution
Bachjret Ward, Citadel, Serpent Nebula
April 9, 2183

Riley wrinkled her nose as the stomach turning stench of rotting food wafted past her nose. The Citadel, for all of its wonders and technology, was still a closed environment and sometimes environments clashed, especially in the wards were the keepers did their best to keep the atmosphere functioning, if not in perfect order.

She had to strain to hear the soft footsteps of Kaidan and Ashley as they followed behind her, and she was glad that she was working with a competent squad this time. Eden Prime had been a prime example as to why it was never a good idea to let a rookie come along on a combat mission with an N7 operator. Jenkins had been just a kid, and he’d never deserved to die so young.

No one ever did. The galaxy wasn’t fair, but Riley hoped that as a Spectre she would be able to make it even a little bit of a safer place.

“Keep tight,” Riley murmured as they came to a corner. The hospital was beyond, and she had no idea what to expect. Kaidan and Ashley paused behind her as she peeked out around the corner. She was just in time to see a group of mercenaries in unmarked, mix and matched armor slipping through the front door of the hospital. The building wasn’t very large, and Riley guessed that there couldn’t be very many people inside, but the situation was horrible despite that. Two of the mercenaries, rookies from the look of their weapons, took guard outside the entrance of the hospital, trying to look as unnoticeable as possible.

“I count ten mercenaries.” Riley said to the two of them waiting behind her. “Ashley, you’re with me. Kaidan, you’re on our six. We go in fast. Don’t give them any time to react.”

“Roger that, ma’am.” Ashley nodded, drawing her rifle.

“There are two guards out front. Drop them as fast as possible.” As soon as she saw their acknowledgment, Riley started counting down, holding her hand up to signal them forward.

As one, they rushed around the corner, running at the entrance of the hospital. Before the two mercenaries could react, Riley had already let loose three rounds, which drilled through the cheap shields of the closest guard’s armor and exploded out the back of his head. Kaidan and Ashley double teamed the other, his chest pockmarked with holes as he dropped to the ground.

Almost before the last body hit the floor, the three of them had stacked up outside the hospital’s entrance.

“Good work,” Riley said, nodding. “We’re in on my mark.”

Even as she said it, Riley felt a gentle calm roll over her, a familiar feeling that left her refreshed and ready for anything. She was one of the most highly trained operators that the Alliance had ever produced. Every N7 was, and their numbers were few. ‘To Sustain.’ That was the the motto of every N. They preformed the tasks that no one else could, so that the Alliance could survive. As an N7, the best of the best, she had done things that left her sleepless at night, all for the betterment of humanity.

This was not one of those moments. Mercenaries who thought they could attack a hospital… well, getting rid of them was a favor to the universe.

With a nod, Riley gave the order even as she was surging forward, her leg muscles aided by her armor. The door didn’t stand a chance against that force, crumpling like cardboard even as it tore from rails.

She could practically feel Ashley behind her as she rushed through the now open doorway, her rifle raised as she scanned the room for targets. Everything seemed to move at a glacial pace, and it was easy to take stock of the small squad that had lingered in the entrance. There were five of them total, and they were just beginning to turn in reaction to the door being blown inward.

"Hey!" The leader of the mercenaries shouted, his voice breaking through the slowness. He was the one wearing the heaviest armor, with a relatively decent rifle in his hands, though he was too slow in raising it. "This business is-"

Before he could finish his sentence, Riley shut him up with a shot through his forehead, her Spectre grade rifle slicing through his shields like they weren't even there.

Even as his body was falling to the ground, Riley and Ashley made short work of the other four mercs. Just because you could afford a suit of armor and a weapon didn't mean that you were a decent soldier. Alliance training was some of the best in the galaxy, and there was no mercenary group alive that could match them.

"Alenko!" As soon as the last body hit the floor, Riley shouted to Kaidan outside, still guarding the door. She wasn't even winded, and the fight had been a bit of a let down. It hadn't even been a real fight, more like shooting fish in a barrel. "No comes through these doors alive, got it?"

"Aye-aye, ma'am." Kaidan confirmed, turning so he had a view of both sides of the door.

"Good." With a nod, Riley glanced at Ashley. The other woman had her rifle at the ready, keeping a watch on the rest of the hospital. "With me, Williams."

Together, they headed further into the hospital in their search for Garrus Vakarian.

"You were sloppy, Vakarian."

This is not how Garrus had planned for his day to go. Being held at gunpoint by five cut-rate mercenaries from an outfit that he'd never even heard of was more than a little embarrassing. He rolled his eyes as the leader sauntered forward with an arrogant swagger, his pistol held loosely in his hand. It was of krogan make, definitely illegal on the Citadel. His shields would barely even be a problem for that weapon, and he wasn't planning on getting shot with it.

That wouldn't be fun. Not at all.

"Who are you, exactly?" Garrus asked, cocking his head to the side. His omni-tool set to record, if he managed to get out of this he would hopefully have a record of everything that was happening. "You do know that your pistol is illegal, right?"

"What?" The leader blinked, not having expected that question. Normally, whenever he did this type of thing, people were far more intimidated.

"Your pistol. It's illegal. You really shouldn't have that on the Citadel." Shifting his weight back onto one of his legs, Garrus put his hands on his hips. "Really though, I'm flattered that someone thinks I'm important enough for a hit squad. I'm obviously doing something right. It really is nice that I'm being noticed."

"Ah!" The leader growled, not at all amused by Garrus. He lifted his pistol, aiming it right between the turian's eyes. "Don't move! You pull your gun and I'm putting you down for good."

"You were planning on doing that anyway." Garrus murmured, holding his hands up as he rolled his eyes.

"You pissed off the wrong man." Shaking his head, the leader growled and narrowed his eyes. "This is what you get for-"

"Excuse me?"

At the sound of the feminine voice, everyone in the room turned to look at the two women in the doorway of the hospital room, assault rifles leveled on the mercenaries.

Before anyone of the mercenaries had a chance to react, Garrus was moving, his talons digging into the ground as his powerful legs propelled him forward.

WHAM!

He slammed into the leader, wrestling the pistol from the man's hand while drawing his own.

Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!

Four shots, two from each pistol, and the four mercenaries behind the leader dropped dead. Marksmanship like that came from lots of practice and fifteen years serving in first the turian military, and then Citadel Security. Only the leader was left alive, and Garrus leveled both pistols on him as he glanced at the women from the corner of his eyes.

"Perfect timing, Shepard." His mandibles flared in a grin, nodding to her in welcoming. "Couldn't have gotten out of this without you. Keep an eye on him, will you?"

Before he even heard an answer, Garrus was stepping around the leader, walking over to a large cabinet in the back of the room. He knocked on the door four times. "Dr. Michel, it's safe. You can come out now."

There was a moment of silence, and then the cabinet door opened. A young, terrified human woman exited, meeting Garrus' eyes. Looking past him, she turned green and fell back against the doors. Leaning over, she threw up. Garrus rubbed her back comfortingly.

"Thank you," the woman, Dr. Michel murmured, taking a lab coat off of a coat rack next to the cabinet and using it wipe her mouth off. "Thank you, Detective Vakarian. You saved my life."

"It was my pleasure, Doctor," Garrus said, turning to look back at Riley and the other woman, before turning his attention to the mercenary leader. "In what world did you decide that coming after a C-SEC detective was good idea? You're either an idiot, or someone's paying you a lot of money."

"I'd bet it's a little from column a, a little from column b." Riley stepped into the room, acknowledging Dr. Michel's presence with a nod. "The world where these wahoos were hired to assassinate you by a third rate bar owner."

Garrus blinked.

Ashley blinked.

Dr. Michel sunk into her chair.

"Third rate bar owner?" Garrus asked, blinking again.

"Wahoos, ma'am?" When she had met the Angels of Elysium, Ashley had always thought they would be a dignified sort. She was quickly having that image changed.

"Best I could come up with on the spot." Shrugging, Riley blushed. There were times that her Equestrian upbringing was incredibly clear.

His eyes widening as he made the connection, Garrus nodded. "Let me guess. Fist."

Riley's nod confirmed everything.

"It's certainly not surprising." Sighing, Garrus dropped both pistols onto the magnetic holsters on his armor.

"Why do you say that?" Riley asked.

"My investigation into Saren led me right to Fist." Garrus started to pace the room, crossing his arms over his chest. "I know he had something to do with Kryik's death."

Riley and Ashley shared a look before turning back to Garrus.

"You figured that out on your own?" Riley asked, looking down at the mercenary leader.

"It wasn't really that hard." Garrus shrugged, pulling out a pair of handcuffs from a slot in his armor. Putting a hand on the leader's shoulder, he pushed the man to the ground. Activating his omni-tool, Garrus made a call to the local C-SEC department as he started cuffing him. "This is Detective Vakarian. I'm at Dr. Michel's clinic on the Bachjret ward. I've got one arrest and four dead. Immediate assistance is required."

Ending the call, Garrus stood, seeing Dr. Michel biting her lip nervously. "Are you alright, Doctor?"

"You have to go?" The woman sounded worried, glancing down at the bodies and the cuffed man. She was a doctor, not the police.

"We can protect you, doctor." Riley reassured Dr. Michel, holstering her rifle on her back. "No one is going to hurt you."

"No!" Dr. Michel rolled her eyes, shaking her head as she turned to face Garrus. "I mean... you have to go. Fist wasn't just after you, Garrus. That's why I called you here. There wasn't anytime to explain before those thugs broke in."

"Not just after me?" Garrus took a step closer to the doctor. "Who else?"

"A quarian," Dr. Michel said, leaning back against the wall, overwhelmed.

"What quarian?" Riley asked. This was the first time that Riley had heard about any quarian.

"A few days ago, a quarian came by my office," Dr. Michel started to explain, rubbing her forehead to try and ease the headache that was doubtlessly building in her head. "She'd been shot, but she wouldn't tell me who did it. I could tell she was scared, probably on the run. She asked me about the Shadow Broker. She wanted to trade information in exchange for a safe place to hide. I..."

Dr. Michel winced, biting her lip. "I made a mistake. I put her in contact with Fist. He's an agent for the Shadow Broker."

"How did you know that?" Garrus stepped forward, his eyes wide in surprise. It wasn't common knowledge and it was something he had only managed to learn a few days ago himself.

"A lot of people come through here." Dr. Michel winced again, looking incredibly embarrassed. She shrugged. "I hear things."

"I'll have to speak to you about that later..." Garrus murmured. He turned to Riley, grinning proudly. "I have a theory, Shepard. I think Saren and the Shadow Broker are working together."

"What makes you think that?" Any new information would be great. It felt like they were working blind, and any help would be amazing.

"It's the only thing that makes sense." Garrus waved his hands, dismissing that point. "It doesn't matter anyway, not right now. Fist made them angry. He's been slipping information to other brokers."

"Fist betrayed the Shadow Broker?" Dr. Michel blinked in surprise. She might have just been a doctor, but the Broker wasn't just anyone. "That's insane, even for him!"

"I'm not sure he knows that they know yet." Fist wasn't exactly the brightest bulb around.

"Try saying that fives time fast," Ashley murmured to herself, snickering.

"That quarian must have something Saren wants. Something worth crossing the Broker to get." Riley turned to look at Dr. Michel. "Did the quarian mention anything about Saren, or the geth?"

"She did!" Dr. Michel nodded, standing up straight after catching her bearing. "The information she wants to trade. She said it had something to do with the geth."

"Any information on how Saren is connected with the geth can only help. The Council will want to hear what she knows."

"This is your show Shepard, but I want to bring Saren down as much as you do." Garrus glanced down and shuffled his feet, almost nervously. It was an interesting look for the turian, especially because the species never looked nervous. It went against everything in their predator nature. Looking back up, he met Riley's gaze. "I'm coming with you."

Riley shared a look with Ashley. The marine didn't at look convinced, but she wasn't the Spectre here.

"Alright." Riley nodded, turning back to the turian. "Welcome aboard, Garrus."

"I don't want to leave you alone with him, Doctor," Garrus said, looking down at the merc leader on the floor, before looking back up at Dr. Michel, "but we really need to get going."

"He won't be a problem." Dr. Michel looked completely unworried. Pulling a hypo-injector from her desk, Dr. Michel jabbed it into the merc leaders neck, pumping him full of sedatives before he could even whimper in protest.

"Remind me to never get on your nerves, Doctor." Garrus chuckled, shaking his head.

Together, Riley, Ashley, and Garrus left the hospital room. They passed by the bodies that they had left in the entrance, and Garrus barely even glanced at them.

Kaidan looked back as Riley and Ashley emerged, Garrus behind them.

"Commander," he greeted, turning his gaze back to the streets.

"This is Garrus Vakarian, Kaidan," Riley said, gesturing at their new teammate. "He's going to be helping us."

The two men nodded at each other.

"Detective." Kaidan didn't at all sound surprised that he was tagging along.

"Lieutenant." Glancing at Kaidan's collar, Garrus returned the greeting.

Ashley looked at him in surprise, having to stop from taking a step back. Eyes narrowed, she asked him a question. "You know Alliance ranks? That doesn't seem like a very turian thing to do."

"It's a hobby." Garrus shrugged, his mandibles fluttering in embarrassment.

Before anything else could be said, Riley pulled her shotgun from her back, stiffening as she looked past Kaidan's shoulder. "We've got company."

As one, the rest of them turned to look and see what had Riley so nervous.

At the sight of an approaching Krogan, they followed her lead and drew their weapons.

The fact that a krogan was coming to them was more than a bit of a surprise. It wasn't often that they left Tuchanka, and those that did tended be the meanest, deadliest creatures you could come across. Destruction typically followed in their footsteps, and they were deeply wary of outsiders. The Rachni Wars and their subsequent betrayal by the turians had left their mark on the krogans, and that hadn't changed in the past two thousand years. They lived with the mindset of exiles, and they were far more isolationist than even the quarians.

To the average krogan, the galaxy was something to be mistrusted. Tuchanka was home.

Tuchanka was safe.

At over seven feet tall, the Krogan was wearing heavily scarred dark red armor, with an even darker crest. He ignored the weapons pointed at him, walking right up to Riley.

"You Commander Shepard?" His voice was heavy and thick, rumbling in his throat.

"Who wants to know?" Riley aimed her weapon directly at the krogan's right eye, hoping that it would be enough to reach his brain. It wouldn't kill him, but it would hopefully wound him bad enough to give them enough time to take him out for good.

"I'm Urdnot Wrex." He didn't even flinch. "You're after Fist."

Riley didn't confirm that one way or another, keeping a careful eye on the krogan. There was no way she could intimidate him, but there was a chance she could be fast enough to keep her squad alive if he decided to attack.

"I know who you are, Shepard." Wrex spoke, his voice rumbling so deeply that Riley could feel it in her chest. "You're the first human Spectre. That's not a small accomplishment."

"What are you getting at?" This entire situation was putting Riley on edge.

"You're after Fist." Wrex crossed his arms, studying the Spectre. She was in no way intimidating to him, and he had probably killed worse before breakfast. "And so am I. We should work together."


Riley glanced at Kaidan and Ashley, rolling her eyes. "It seems people are tripping over themselves to help us today. Don't get used to it, this isn't normal."

"Aye aye, ma'am." Kaidan's voice held a hint of amusement.

"Already knew that one, Commander." Ashley rolled her eyes, never taking her finger away from her shotgun's trigger.

"Why are you looking for Fist?" Turning back to Wrex, Riley watched him carefully.

"The Shadow Broker wants him dead." He said it so calmly, like it was as unextraordinary as the fact that he varren burgers for breakfast. "I'm being paid a not inconsiderable amount of money to make sure he gets that way."

Riley contemplated that for a moment, before nodding. Having a krogan would only make the entire thing go quickly. "As long as you don't kill him until we're done with him, than I have no problem with that."

"Glad to know you're not an idiot." Wrex nodded, holding out his hand. "Not like some Spectres I've met. You've got a good head on your shoulders."

Riley raised an eyebrow in a silent question.

Catching her need for an explanation, Wrex elaborated. "Saren."

"Yeah." Shaking her head, Riley couldn't help the laugh that escaped her lips. "That explains it."

Wrex laughed, a booming sound that was more felt than heard. "I think I'm going to like you, Shepard!"

"Fist is after a quarian with information on Saren. We need to find her before he does." Slowly, Riley put away her shotgun, letting the magnets on her back take hold of it. She straightened up, trusting that Wrex wouldn't just rip her head off. Trusting was always the first step in friendships.

"It sounds like you have a plan. You lead, and I'll follow, Shepard." Wrex almost sounded bored.

After a moment of hesitation, the others followed Riley's lead, stowing their weapons.

Turning to Garrus, Riley had an idea. "Quarians aren't common on the Citadel, are they?"

"No." Garrus shook his head, confirming Riley's thoughts. "Customs would have taken their time with them."

"Do you have access to those records?"

"No. That's a different department."

Pursing her lips, Riley nodded. "Use my Spectre code. We need to find her."

"You've got it, Shepard." Turning away, Garrus started working on his omni-tool, making the needed calls.

Riley turned to Wrex, shifting her weight onto one of her legs, crossing her arms under her breasts. "Do you have any idea where Fist is? We've already checked Chora's Den, and he hasn't been seen for a day."

"That's not surprising." Wrex chortled in amusement, shaking his head. He leaned against the wall of the hospital, putting one of his legs over the other. "Fist is a coward. He isn't man enough to face his own death. I do know one thing. A man named Harkin is helping him."

Garrus looked up in surprise. "Did you say Harkin?"

"Yeah."Wrex meet Garrus' gaze. "You know him?"

"I've met him a few times." Garrus kept his gaze split between his omni-tool and the team, working as he talked. "He's C-SEC. The first human to be accepted, actually. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he was doing illegal work on the side."

"So we need to find Harkin to find Fist?" Riley asked, glad that a way forward was presenting itself.

"That sounds about right," Wrex said, nodding in confirmation.

"I've got the records, Shepard." Garrus held up his arm, his mandibles widening in a grin.

"Good." She strode up to him, all business. "Show me."

With a quick press of the haptic display, Garrus turned the image on the omni-tool around so Riley could see it.

"There are only three quarians on the Citadel right now," Garrus explained as Riley read his omni-tool. "Legally at least. Two of them are male."

Garrus shifted the two records of the males off his omni-tool. They weren't relevant to their investigation. That left only one. The file simply read: Tali'Zorah Nar Rayya.

"Tali'Zorah Nar Rayya." Garrus opened the file for Riley to read. "She's twenty-two years old. Came to the Citadel on a turian transport ship. She disappeared as soon as she was released from customs."

"Until she showed up here." That girl probably wasn't having a very good time. Riley gestured over her shoulder at the hospital behind them. "We need to find Fist first. We find him, we find her."

"Right, Shepard." Wiping away the files on his omni-tool, Garrus made a call. "Detective Vakarian here. I need to speak with Officer Harkin. Send me his location."

Garrus' omni-tool let out a small beep a moment later, having received Harkin's location. He laughed when he saw it.

"What?" Riley asked, watching the turian carefully.

"He's at Chora's Den."

"Figures." Riley rolled her eyes, rubbing the bridge of her nose. That bar was nothing but bad news.

Shadow Broker Safe House, Tayseri Ward, Citadel

No one knew for sure how big the shadow organization that the Shadow Broker ran actually was. It was known that the Broker could uncover almost any secret, but no one but the Broker knew how big his organization was.

If the Broker was even a he. One could never know. The Broker never met with anyone in person after all.

The Broker kept all of his agents compartmentalized. None of them knew how many other agents there were, or where they operated. They did know that the Broker would send them coordinates to safe houses every so often, when they became too high-profile, or needed back up on a particular mission.

Jalari T'Daus was proud to run one such house. She had been running it for nearly two hundred years, and she was proud that she was able to keep it in such a good state. No agent had ever died under her watch.

Sitting at the kitchen table of the safe house, she sipped at a cup of tea, appreciating the delicate flavors that played across her tongue. There were a few other agents lingering around, and they had another month to go before the Broker needed them out. Two turians, a male and a female, brother and sister, were sitting on couches in the other room, chatting quietly, though it wasn't quiet enough for Jalari to listen in on.

"Any word from Antonia?" The male asked. Jalari never bothered to learn their names. It wasn't a good idea in their business. They knew her simply as mother, and she only ever knew them by their Broker designations.

"No," the female responded, shaking her head.

Draining the rest of her tea, Jalari set her cup in the dish washer before walking into the living room to join the turians.

"She made her hit." Jalari settled down on one of the couches across from the turians, crossing her leg. "If she doesn't show up by tomorrow, we'll look for her. Until then, we do nothi-"

An explosion ripped the door from its hinge and blew Jalari off the couch. Everything seemed to slow, and as she was in mid-air, Jalari looked to see what was happening. Coming through the corona of the biotic explosion was an extremely familiar asari. She had colloborated with her more than a few times on missions for the Broker.

Tela Vasir roared as she leapt into the safehouse, her biotics rippling across her skin even as she had a pistol raised.

Her gun fired, and the male turian's head snapped back. Blue blood splatters across the female turian and the walls behind them as chunks of his carapace ripped away, followed by grey pieces of brain matter.

Tela charged forward, grabbing the female turian by the throat. With an expert application of force, she squeezed, crushing it, then threw the body at Jalari.

All of this happened within two seconds, and before Jalari could fully process what happened, Tela had her knee planted in the middle of her chest, knocking whatever breath she had left out of her lungs.

"Vasir!" Jalari croaked, struggling to breath. "What the hell are you doing? The Broker will kill you for this!"

"I didn't give you permission to talk." Tela lodged her other knee over Jalari's throat. Grabbing Jalari's face by the cheeks, Tela forces the younger asari to look at her. "When you decided that it was a good idea to kill Spectre Kryik, did it ever cross your mind that I'd come after you."

"NO!" She would be shaking her head furiously if was able to move. As it was, she managed to draw in enough breath to scream.

"Well." Tela scoffed, lowering her head until she was almost nose to nose with her. "Here I am. You really should have thought that through."

"The Shadow Broker would have kill--"

"The Shadow Broker isn't here right now." Rolling her eyes, Tela eased up ever so slightly on Jalari's throat, allowing her to take a deep, gasping breath. "I am. Who do you think is the one you need to worry about right now?"

Jalari didn't answer, looking up at Tela with a mixture of fear and anger.

"I asked you a question!"

"You!" Tears welled in Jalari's eyes, and she knew in that moment that her mother had been right. She could have done so much more with her life.

"That's fucking right!" Tela roared, spittle flying from her mouth in her rage. "I've already taken down your incompetent little assassin."

"You're betraying the Shadow Broker! You won't get away with this."

"I already am, and I'm not going to stop. I'm going to bring him down, and there's nothing you can do about that." Tela leaned down once again, her breath coming in harsh pants. "I haven't killed you because of your mother. I am giving you one chance, and one chance only. You'll work with me, or I'll send your mother a lovely bouquet with a note telling her how sorry I am that you had to die."

Jabari struggled to breathe, but there was no choice in her mind. "Alright!"

"Say it."

"Alright!" Jalari hated herself. She hated the choices she had made. She hated that it had to come to this. "I'll work for you!"

As soon as she had said that, Tela stood, getting off of Jalari. The younger asari took in deep gulps of air, rubbing her neck.

"Good choice. Let's get started."

Chora's Den, Wards, Citadel, The Serpent Nebula

Entering Chora's Den for the second time in nearly as many hours, Riley, Ashley, Kaidan, Garrus, and Wrex made for an interesting sight. To see humans, a krogan, and a turian all together without any complaints was not normal. When the manager caught sight them, especially the krogan behind them, he decided it was best to not even bother with them.

"Do you see Harkin?" Riley asked, looking up at Garrus. She had no idea what he looked like, and the turian was the only one who had ever actually met the man.

Garrus scanned the crowd and easily find him near the back, an asari dancer giving him a lap dance. He pointed with a talon. "There."

"I can see he's doing great things for humanities reputation." Ashley practically growled, scowling at the man.

"He could do better." Wrex shrugged, completely missing her point. "She's a little homely. I've seen better looking turians."

Ashley just stared after the krogan for a moment before shaking her head and entrenching her own personal philosophy even further.

Together, they all walked to Harkin's table. Riley's glare at the dancer made the maiden blush, and she scurried away as fast as she possibly could.

"Hey!" Annoyed at his entertainment having run away, Harkin turned to berate Riley. "I was watching that."

Riley ignored him, taking a seat dramatically across from Harkin, crossing her legs casually as she leaned back as comfortably as she could. "Officer Harkin, you've been making a lot of bad mistakes."

"Who the hell are you?" Harkin glared at Riley, scowling. "If you don't move along, I'm gonna have to arrest you."

"Commander Riley Shepard. Special Tactics and Reconnaissance." Riley stared at Harkin, completely unimpressed. He shifted uncomfortably at that. "I would say that it's a pleasure to meet you, but..." Riley shook her head. "You make people disappear, don't you Harkin? It's your thing."

"I don't need any of this shit. I'm outta here." Harkin moved to stand, but Wrex put a hand on his shoulder and shoved him back down into his seat. Gulping, Harkin looks up at the krogan before turning his attention to Riley.

"You make people disappear, don't you Harkin," Riley repeated, her eyes half lidded.

"So what if I do?" Harkin glared up at Garrus, knowing that the turian was the only one who could have betrayed him.

"Well Harkin." Riley leaned forward dangerously. "I need you to make someone reappear."

"That's not how it works." Harkin shook his head, glaring daggers at Riley.

"You're being stubborn." Riley shook her head, tsking at the older man. She gestured up at Wrex, who grinned wickedly, showing off tech that would have no problem chewing through Harkin's skull. "You don't want to upset my friend, here. He doesn't it like when idiots get stubborn."

With a sigh, Harkin relented. "Who do you want?"

"Fist."

Harkin leaned back in his chair, intimidated. He was in the very definition of a rock and a hard place, between a mob boss and a Spectre. "Are you crazy? He'd kill me!"

"Not if my friend kills him first." With a shrug, Riley waited to see what Harkin would say.

"I'd tell her if I were you." Wrex leaned close to Harkin. Close enough that the man could smell what the krogan had for breakfast.

Despite the krogan and the woman with no laws, Harkin still had to think about it for a second before he relented, slumping into his seat. "Alright... alright."

Sighing, he leaned forward. He held out a data disc for Riley to take. "Here. He's holed up in a building in the Tayseri ward. That has the address and everything."

"Thank you very much, Harkin." Standing, Riley nodded thankfully to the C-SEC officer.

"Don't make me come back here." Almost faster than the eye could see, Wrex slammed his fist into Harkin's stomach, and the human crumpled, coughing violently.

Riley just eyed Wrex. He shrugged in response, not caring at her judgement.

"What? He made me angry."

Shaking her head, Riley turned away. Setting the data disc into her omni tool, she opened the sole file and found the address within moments. Looking up at the rest of her team, Riley motioned towards the door. "Let's get going."

Together, they left the bar. The manager watched them go without making a comment, relieved that their visit hadn't resulted in a single death.

Before all of them were even out the door, a slim woman with vaguely asian features rushed up to them, waving excitedly.

"Commander Shepard!" She shouted, breathless, a smile spreading across her face.

Riley didn't respond at her right away, glancing her over as she waited for her to continue. She didn't have to wait long.

"I'm Emily Wong," she introduced herself. "I'm an investigative journalist with the Alliance News Network. Could I have a moment of your time?"

"What do you need?" Riley paused, giving Emily a deeper look.

"I'm doing a story about corruption and organized crime and the Citadel, but I've been stone walled everywhere I've gone." Her eyes were filled with such hope that it made Riley curious about what she was wanting. "I was hoping that you could share anything you find in your own investigation."

"How do you know that I'm going to uncover anything you need." Crossing her arms, she tilted her head to the side ever so slightly.

Emily Wong just looked at her. Really? "If anyone is going to be digging up anything that I could use, it's the hero of Elysium."

Riley nodded in understanding. For a moment, she debated something in her head for a moment before opening her omni-tool. In moments, she forged a data disc and held it up for Emily to see. "This is a copy of a computer that I've come across in my own investigations. I think you'll find the contents... interesting."

Riley handed it over to Emily, who took it like it was the most precious thing she had ever seen.

"Thank you, Commander!" Emily looked like she wanted to start dancing in excitement before remembering who she was standing in front of, and did her best to compose herself. "This will help more than you know."

"Glad I could be of help."

Before Riley could say anything else, Emily Wong rushed away, towards a waiting aircar.

As soon as Emily was gone, Ashley spoke up. "Are you sure that was a wise idea, ma'am?"

"Anything that helps bring down the darker elements on the Citadel is something that I support." Riley glanced back at Ashley, meeting her brown eyes with her own. Riley shakes her head. If the crime on the Citadel was more curtailed, than there never would have been a market for Equestrian slaves. If she had been any slower that night on Equestria so long ago... it could have been Twilight, or even Rainbow that was sold like a piece of property.

Feeling a lot less happy than she had been a moment before, Riley led her crew over to the waiting aircar service. They had to take two with how many people they now had with them. Riley climbed into the first car with Garrus and Wrex, Ashley and Kaidan taking the second one.

As soon as they took off, Riley turned in her seat so she could see both of her new teammates. "So, Garrus... you don't seem like typical C-SEC."
"No. I uh..." Garrus rubbed the back of his fringe, laughing uncomfortably. "I guess not, Commander. You certainly agree with my father there."

"I thought it was the 'turian way' to always follow orders." She held up her fingers to do finger quotes. "I was always told it was embedded in your DNA."

"We all know the wonderful things that leads to." Wrex rolled his eyes, snorting.

"I've never been a great turian." Garrus ignored Wrex, meeting Riley's gaze. He shrugged, more than a little embarrassed. "I don't like red-tape. That's gotten me in trouble more than a few times."

"No one does." Wrex laughed, shaking his head. "How long did your species spend going through the paperwork before you decided to neuter mine? I'm surprised it took you so little time."

Both Riley and Garrus gave the massive krogan a look. It really wouldn't be a good idea to piss him off, especially now that they were in a confined space.

"What about you, Wrex?" Riley finally asked, turning her attention to Wrex. He met her gaze evenly, completely unashamed. "What did you do before you fell into our happy little band of misfits?"

Wrex shifted in his seat, scratching an itch while he shrugged. "I'm a krogan. That should really be enough."

"So..." Riley drawled, hoping she wasn't making a mistake. "A mercenary then."

"Yeah." He grinned at the two of them, the three scars on his face looking grittier than ever before. His entire body was covered in scars, a history of battles and fights that were probably older than both Riley and Garrus combined. "You couldn't tell just from my pretty face?"

"It is very... distinct look," Riley agreed, hesitant. The krogan was a completely unknown factor. At this point, he could be either one of the best allies she had ever made, or one of the worst mistakes. It could go either way.

"I'm glad you can appreciate it." Wrex nodded, pleased, before he started to pick at a thin scratch on his armor.

The three of them settled into an uncomfortable silence for the rest of the ride, and Riley and Garrus shared a look.

Author's Note:

This chapter took foreeeeeeeever. I've actually had to split it into three because of just how long the introduction to everyone's favorite quarian mechanic is going to be. I'm also wrapping up the first visit to the Citadel, so we're almost ready to head out into the galaxy.

Don't forget to leave your thoughts below!

If you find any mistakes or corrections, please PM them to me instead of leaving them in the comments.

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